Click on the article title below to be taken directly to the article. After you’re done reading the article, click “Back to Top” at the bottom to be brought back to the Table of Contents.

Table of Contents

Air Tractor’s 50th Anniversary Soirée Honors a Legend and a Legendary Ag Aviation Company
Last week in Olney, Texas, at its company headquarters and plant, Air Tractor celebrated its 50th anniversary with a banquet that included the company’s employees, city officials and leaders in the agricultural aviation industry. The event honored Air Tractor’s late founder Leland Snow, on his 94th birthday. It also paid tribute to Air Tractor’s suppliers, and their employees—both past and present—that since the first AT-300 was certified 50 years ago has now manufactured over 4,600 airplanes.

Air Tractor Vice-President of Sales Kristin Edwards, Leland and Nancy Snow’s oldest daughter, opened the event followed by President Jim Hirsch. The ceremony included a great documentary of the company, including Leland’s early days designing Snow aircraft, selling his first aircraft company to defense contractor Rockwell and starting afresh with Air Tractor and the company’s innovations, hiccups, rebounds, and more innovations. That first Air Tractor AT-300 designed for agricultural purposes, has since led to Air Tractor aircraft designed and/or used for fighting wildfires, narcotic crop eradication, fuel-hauling to remote villages, fighting locust plagues, mosquito control, and cleaning up oil spills in coastal waters. From North, South and Central America, to Australia, Indonesia and China to Spain, Italy, Croatia and Africa, Air Tractor aircraft can be found in more than 40 countries around the world.

Attendees at the banquet and that are familiar with the company can see how the “i” in Air Tractor can easily stand for innovation. Starting with a 300 gallon aircraft to 400, 500, 600, and 800 gallons, Air Tractor now has a 1,000 gallon aircraft nearing certification. Special guest and former Pratt & Whitney Canada Chairman and CEO Gilles Ouimet spoke to the banquet crowd about working together with Leland to consistently and dependably equip turbine-designed powerplants onto Air Tractor airplanes increasing their payload, reliability and speed. Chris Lockhart, sales coordinator at Air Tractor, Inc. spoke about how in 2008, Leland and Nancy Snow and daughters Kristin and Kara had the interests of the company and its employees in mind when they signed the papers to establish Air Tractor as an Employee Stock Ownership Plan (ESOP), which is an employee benefit succession arrangement that enables employees to own shares in the company. Kyle Schrader, aerospace engineer and certification manager for Air Tractor gave a special tribute to President Jim Hirsch and his leadership prowess at Air Tractor. Hirsch has now been with Air Tractor for 32 years and took over as the company’s president in 2011 after Leland Snow’s passing, keeping the Air Tractor company keel steady during the transition and to this day over a dozen years later.

The celebratory event was as successful as the Air Tractor company in which it showcased, which is currently on target to achieve manufacturing a record, 2024 production goal of 218 airplanes.

Back to top

In-Season Safety Session a Success – Recording Available
NAAREF held its fourth annual in-season safety session on Monday in an effort to maintain an industry-wide focus on safety as many operations enter their busiest time of year.

The session was conducted by a panel of experienced pilots and operators: Matt Hovdenes (ND), Dominique Youakim (IL), Mike Rivenbark (NC) and Matt Peed (AZ). NAAREF Executive Director Andrew Moore opened the session and provided additional closing remarks. The panelists focused their discussion on the importance of proper mentorship, personal minimums, wire strike avoidance and ferrying height.

By all measures, the session was well received by the more than 80 live attendees. Post-session survey respondents, both new pilots and veteran operators, overwhelmingly rated it as very helpful resulting in a rating of 4.76 on a scale of 0 (Not helpful) to 5 (Very Helpful). One common bit of feedback was a desire for a longer session in the future. While intentionally kept to 30 minutes, recognizing the already busy schedules of pilots across the US, NAAREF will consider this in planning future sessions.

For those who missed it, or to share it with others in your operation, you can find a recording of the session here.
Back to top

NAAA CEO Andrew Moore Interviewed for Article
NAAA’s press releases regarding drones this spring caught the attention of the website and NAAA CEO Andrew Moore was interviewed by Features Editor Jim Magill. NAAA’s press release in April cautioned hobbyist and professional drone operators not to interfere with low-altitude manned agricultural aircraft and the May press release announced that NAAA’s Board of Directors established the Uncrewed Aerial Application System Committee.

In the article, Moore discussed the complementary relationship of manned aircraft and drones in the agricultural aviation industry. The article also discusses the recent FAA Reauthorization Act of 2024, which includes the NAAA-advocated position that the FAA ensure the safety of manned aircraft when developing beyond visual line of site regulations for drones operating in the airspace. Read the article here. is a website dedicated to news about the drone industry, product releases and videos for the reader to stay informed of commercial drone use. The website receives more than 2 million readers per year and their Facebook page has more than 200,000 followers.
Back to top

In Case You Missed Last Week’s NAAA eNewsletter

Click here for the May 30, 2024 eNewsletter to read:

  • Farm Bill Proceeds Out of House Ag Committee with Ag Aviation Regulatory Relief Measures
  • Register In Advance; Air Tractor Celebrates 50 Years This Week
  • Bill Lavender, AgAir Update Publisher, Celebrating 50 Years in the Aerial Application Industry
  • Welcome to Fort Worth: Mayor’s Special Message to Ag Aviation Expo Attendees
    Back to top